Friday, 15 January 2021

Day 305 of self-isolation - Blog spam

Blog spam

For every genuine comment on this blog, there are dozens of spam comments. Most of these consist of flattery on the content of the blog; I suppose they think that I'm more likely to approve those.

It's very strange that only a few of the blog posts get these spam comments. One is my Christmas story about "Rudolf the Red" (I've left one of them there as a specimen), another is "Out with ladysolly". A description of a few of my bicycles gets a surprising amount of attention.

I don't understand what they think they're getting out of this. There is no lonk to anything, there's nothing that I can see that gets the spammer any advantage.

Is it possible that hundreds of people genuinely admire my literary style and command of the subjects that I cover? Not a chance. If that were true, it wouldn't be just a few blog posts; they['d be scattered over a great many posts.

So what is going on?

If anyone knows, please tell me.

Thursday, 14 January 2021

Day 304 of self-isolation - Variants


There's the Kent variant, the South Africa variant and the Brazilian variant. Where did they come from, and what problems do they cause?

It's evolution in action. The purpose of a virus is to copy itself, and to do so, it uses the mechanisms of our cells. But the copies are not always exact. Sometimes, there is a small mistake in the copy.

This mistake could mean a non-viable virus, and that's a dead end. Or it could mean a virus that is less infectious. Or more infectious.

The more times this copying happens, the more chances there are for a minor copying error. Most such errors don't change infectiousness, but the copying errors that make the virus more infectious will, obviously, spread faster than the original.

So the problem will continue. As the virus gets more and more common, there will be more and more variants which are more infectious. Kent was unfortunate to be hit by one of the first, and now the whole of the UK is suffering.

The vaccine will change the environment. And evolution is about adaptation to the environment.

With that many copies of the virus floating around, it's likely that some of them will be more resistant to the vaccines. And in the same way that bacteria have evolved resistance to antibiotics, so Covid can evolve resistance to the vaccines.

The vaccines will get us off the hook for now. But not for ever. Just as we need a new vaccine for flu each year, we could need a new vaccine for Covid each year.

We have to get ready for that.


I'd suggest three things.

1. We have to stop running the NHS at near 100% capacity. There has to be unued capacity to cope with an epidemic. Yes, that will cost money.

2. We need more doctors and nurses, and we need to get them by paying for their training (bursaries) and paying them well when trained. Yes, that will cost money.

3. We need to have enough medical equipment (for example, PPE) in stock so that if there's another pandemic, we aren't left using bin bags instead. Yes, that will cost money.

This will all cost money, but not as much as it can cost if we don't get ready for the next pandemic. 

Wednesday, 13 January 2021

Day 303 of self-isolation - More masks

More masks

Waitrose, Adsa and Tesco have all announced a new tough masking policy.

No mask - no service.

Tuesday, 12 January 2021

Day 302 of self-isolation - Masks


Morrisons and Sainsbury's are banning customers unless they wear a mask. 

Good idea. Perhaps that will lead other supermarkets to follow suit. And perhaps that will make a contribution to reducing the spread of the virus.

We're looking like 100,000  deaths by the end of February.


Monday, 11 January 2021

Day 301 of self-isolation - All vaccinated by March end

In Israel

Every Israeli citizen over the age of 16 who is willing to, will be vaccinated by the end of March.

 Why can't we do that here? We have the world-beating NHS, we have a carpet-beating government, we have access to three approved vaccines, including one developed here.

Israel is also in their third national lockdown, and are currently looking at 400 deaths per million population. That's a third of the number in the UK, which is 1200 per million.

Israel is using the Pfizer vaccine; we are too. Currently, 20% of Israelis have had their first dose if the vaccine; in the UK, it's more like 2%.

Why can't our own oven-ready government exdigitate?

Sunday, 10 January 2021

Day 300 of self-isolation - The first 300 days

The first 300 days

10 months ago, I started this series with a satirical piece "Day 97 of isolation". I chose 97 because I thought it was very far in the future - but it wasn't.

But I'm not going to look back on the last 300 days. There are so many interesting and terrible things happening in America.

The center of government in the USA, is the Capitol building in Washington. It's their equivalent of the Houses of Parliament.

So on 6th January, Trump held a rally in Washington, in which he invited attendees to walk with him to the Capitol to tell the senators and congress people to reverse the results of the election of November 3rd.

And so they did as he asked. Of course, he didn't walk with them. But his followers arrived at the Capitol, and proceeded to break in. In the riot that followed, the police were heavily outnumbered, because who could have guessed that this would happen? Everyone, actually.

Many of them broke into the building, forcing doors and breaking windows.

One police officer (Brian Sidenick) was bludgeoned to death with a fire extinguisher.


One rioter (Ashil Babbi, 35) was shot and died as she tried to force entry by climbing through a window. 


One woman (Rosanne Boyland, 34) was trampled to death in the crush as people tried to force entry. Here's a picture of her waving her "Don't tread on me" flag.

Kevin Greeson, 55, allegedly was trying to steal a portrait of Tip O'Neill, accidentally tasered himself in the testicles and died of a heart attack.

This all came as a great shock to many people, but the general consensus is that this was incited by Trump, as part of his lie that he had really won the election and that it had been stolen.

So what do you do when something is stolen from you? You try to get it back.

But it wasn't stolen. There has been 60 court cases, all of which have failed to show that there was anything wrong with the election. The man in charge of election security said that it was the most secure election in US history. The woman who falsely and repeatedly claimed that Dominion vote counting machines flipped huge numbers of votes, is now being sued for $1.3 billion by Dominion. 

Trump went too far this time. You don't incite an insurrection against the US government - there are consequences. Twitter, Facebook, Youtube and Instagram have all suspended his account. Shopify has closed his online shop for Maga hats and other stuff. And the process to impeach him has been started - his second impeachment.

Trump's drive to "Make America Great Again" has ended in tragedy and farce. To 380,000 deaths in the pandemic, partly because of his non-mask-wearing leadership. To a ruined USA economy, a ruined respect for the US government and an unprecedented division in America.

Biden is probably not the best person in America to be President. But he had the huge advantage of not being Trump. Hopefully, Biden will take facts on board, will follow the science in the response to the pandemic, and will try to bring America together to heal the terrible rifts that Trump exploited and widened.

Perhaps, after four years, the lunatics will no longer be running the asylum.

Saturday, 9 January 2021

Day 299 of self-isolation - Worst ever

Worst ever

On Thursday, we had 1325 Covid deaths which is the worst ever, and 68,053 new cases, which is the worst ever. We are now paying the price of Christmas, which was 14 days ago. We had our Christmas at home, just the two of us, plus the family via Zoom. 

The UK is the worst Covid country to be in the world right now, even worse (on a per million basis) than the USA.

The pressure on the ambulance service and on the hospitals, is horrendous. London has declared a "major incident" as Covid threatens to overwhelm hospitals. This is a very bad time to get any kind of illness that needs hospitalisation.

There are 7,034 people currently hospitalized with Covid in London, 35% more than the worst time in April.

In the USA, deaths were 4207, a new high. New cases were 279,154, a new high. Also Christmas. Also dire. And, of course, American attention is concentrated on their political crisis and the insurrection in Washington.

In California, doctors are now facing the horrendous choice of who to admit to hospital and who to turn away - triage.

And the Kent variant of the virus is starting to spread in the USA.